Spiritual Lessons from a Jar of Jam
Spiritual Lessons from a Jar of Jam
As I was preparing another batch of jam this week, I was reflecting on the jam making process. Making jam requires time and patience. First it takes time to soften the fruit by bringing it up to a simmer, then you need to mix in the sugar which provides both wonderful flavour as well as preserving qualities. But the part that takes patience and waiting is when you add the pectin which helps the jam to thicken and set. This requires that the jam mixture be brought up to a boil and you need to continually stir the boiling jam for up to 20 minutes. It is tempting to cut the process short but then you end up with a runny sauce rather than a thick jam. It is tempting to cut the process short because it takes time, but you need to wait.
In life, we are sometimes tempted to cut a process short and take the easy path. This is especially true when life gets complicated and messy or when we’ve been hurt. As difficult as it is to endure those times with patience, if we do we will come out the other end with a better balance and perspective, just like a thick jam. When we are patient and take time to work through our challenges, God’s grace and love is set firmly in our heart like that thick jam. When we are impatient and look to take the easy way out and maybe not struggle and wrestle with life challenges then we might be like that overly runny jam that slips off the bread. God wants to set his love in our hearts but we haven’t given the time for that love to set.
Take some time to read and reflect on these verses. What is God telling you about patience and endurance? Write your thoughts in the spaces below the verses.
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.
Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. 8 Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper— it only leads to harm. 9 For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.
2 Thessalonians 1:3-5
Dear brothers and sisters,[we can’t help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing. 4 We proudly tell God’s other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering. 5 And God will use this persecution to show his justice and to make you worthy of his Kingdom, for which you are suffering.
1 Samuel 13:8-14
8 Saul waited there seven days for Samuel, as Samuel had instructed him earlier, but Samuel still didn’t come. Saul realized that his troops were rapidly slipping away. 9 So he demanded, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!” And Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself. 10 Just as Saul was finishing with the burnt offering, Samuel arrived. Saul went out to meet and welcome him, 11 but Samuel said, “What is this you have done?” Saul replied, “I saw my men scattering from me, and you didn’t arrive when you said you would, and the Philistines are at Micmash ready for battle. 12 So I said, ‘The Philistines are ready to march against us at Gilgal, and I haven’t even asked for the Lord’s help!’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering myself before you came.” 13 “How foolish!” Samuel exclaimed. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart. The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”
24 We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. 25 But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.) 26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.
Take time to listen to this song by Laura Daigle. Read through the lyrics and reflect on God’s faithfulness.
Letting go of every single dream, I lay each one down at Your feet
Every moment of my wandering never changes what You see
I’ve tried to win this war, I confess. My hands are weary, I need Your rest.
Mighty warrior, King of the fight. No matter what I face, You’re by my side
When You don’t move the mountains, I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters, I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers, As I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You
Truth is, You know what tomorrow brings there’s not a day ahead You have not seen
So in all things be my life and breath I want what You want, Lord, and nothing less
You are my strength and comfort, You are my steady hand
You are my firm foundation the rock on which I stand
Your ways are always higher, Your plans are always good
There’s not a place where I’ll go you’ve not already stood
Thoughts on perseverance by Andrea Stunz
Per·se·vereˌ pərsəˈvir/ verb: continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success. Facing difficulty with little to no prospect of success.
Oh my goodness… by that definition, the outlook is so bleak! Persevering without hope, without Christ, is bleak at best. Persevere is a verb. An action word. I would like to propose the idea of persevering as waiting while moving forward. That sounds a bit more hopeful, right?
If we persevere with Christ there is always hope. With Christ, we can forge through. With hope, we can hang on, sometimes by the tips of our fingernails, but we can do it. We can have confidence that we’ll make it because we know how the story ends.
There are so many stories in the scripture of those who waited. Those who forged through and survived. Maybe not always with the best attitudes but they persevered. There were even some who died not getting to see what it was they were waiting for – their “promised land”.
Abraham and Sarah waited for a baby. Joseph waited to be rescued from the well. Jacob waited for his bride, twice. Anna waited at the temple to see Jesus as she was promised. Paul waited in prison. God’s people waited for their Messiah for centuries. There was a period of time, 400 years as we’re told, when God was silent. Then He sent Jesus. Do you think He was just hanging around twiddling His thumbs? Nope. He was up to something. I take great comfort in believing that in our waiting, when God seems silent, He’s up to something big. He’s got a plan. His timing is not our timing. We just have to wait for it. We have to wait for Him.
We wait for something every day. We wait for that phone call. We wait for the paycheck. We wait in the line at the grocery store. We wait for bedtime or we wait for the coffee to finish brewing. We wait for the marriage to heal. We wait for our prodigal to return. We wait for the treatment to work. We wait through years of infertility. We wait for the ultrasound for positive news. Productive persevering is waiting for something to move.